With the release of Ridley Scott's sixth instalment of the iconic Alien film franchise, we take a look at seven must-see space-based films.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s applauded sci-fi adventure captures the past and the future of space to create a thrilling battle between man and computer to achieve the next step in evolution.

2001 features more than a handful of remarkable moments that changed the face of cinema from ancient ape-men discovering the power of weapons to the chilling discovery that HAL, the sentient robot, is planning something sinister for our protagonists.

It’s a well-known fact that Kubrick filmed excessive amounts of takes and much more material than audiences would see but the actual figures are astonishing: the footage shot was around 200 times the length of the final film.

Kubrick beautifully uses orchestral music throughout, proving that you can effectively tell a story without dialogue.

 

Alien

"In space, no one can hear you scream" is the iconic tagline for Ridley Scott’s seminal science fiction horror. What happens when an extra-terrestrial life form appears on your ship, hunting down your crew one by one? That’s the dilemma the Nostromo crew find themselves in.

The Alien, known in the film as The Xenomorph, may be the titular character but it doesn’t appear until an hour into the film with a total screen time of only four minutes. Alien is comparable to Jaws, two of the scariest films of the 1970s that build fear rather than cheap scares.

The Alien franchise continues to grow with several prequels and sequels planned for the near future.

 

The Martian

Ridley Scott takes the helm with this scientific space drama based on Andy Weir’s popular book. An astronaut, Mark Watney, is accidently stranded on Mars by his crew and must use his brain to survive on the lifeless planet.

The creators wanted space to be represented with the highest accuracy which was made possible with NASA assisting throughout the creative process.

Unlike Scott’s usual space endeavours, this one features zero alien activity which works with this type of drama but it would be intriguing to see Mark Watney against a Xenomorph.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel studios took their impressive cinematic universe to space with this comedy-focused superhero team. Peter Quill leads a group of unique characters, including a talking tree and a raccoon, as they try to defend the universe from menacing forces.

A popular aspect of this space voyage is music, represented both diegetically and non-diegetically through Quill's cassette player. The album, which featured many songs of the 1960s and 1970s, even made it to number one in the US Billboard chart.

Director James Gunn took the somewhat unknown comic series of the same name and transformed it into a household name. The second Guardians of the Galaxy film was released in April 2017 and a third has already been confirmed.

 

Forbidden Planet

This 1956 hit sci-fi film based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, follows a spaceship discovering a planet with only two remaining survivors, which leads to several frightful discoveries.

The iconic butler, Robby the Robot, first debuted in this film. The 7-foot-2 machine became a science fiction icon which led to it being reused in future film and television productions such as Lost in Space and evenThe Addams Family.

A jukebox musical based on this cult classic, Return to the Forbidden Planet, was created in the 80s and featured classic rock 'n' roll songs, such as "Good Vibrations" and "Great Balls of Fire".

 

Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón won the Best Director Oscar for this thrilling yet realistic space drama. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney lead as two astronauts stranded in space after their shuttle is destroyed.

The film's reception was overwhelmingly positive, with real life astronauts, such as Buzz Aldrin, praising the realistic portrayal of the zero gravity movement.

Since the majority of the film is set in space, the behind the scenes process was intense: the animation work took around two and a half years to complete before the actors even started their filming.

 

 

Star Wars 

George Lucas took us to a galaxy far far away in 1977 and we haven’t looked back since. Luke, Leia and Han lead the original swashbuckling space adventure against Darth Vader and the evil Empire.

The Star Wars franchise has taken us to a variety of planets, from sand-covered deserts to frozen ice worlds. 

The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm and the Star Wars property, which has resulted in a new trilogy, spin-off films and even a theme park expansion in Disney’s Hollywood studios. Micky Mouse has been busy with the Force.

 

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